Beijing’s winter is cold, but that doesn’t mean you should be confined to the inside of your house. On a pleasant day, a long walk can do wonders for you and your kids. Immersion Guide’s Beijing By Foot and beijingkids recommend a kid-friendly route near Yonghegong (the Lama Temple) that combines history, culture, food and entertainment.
9am: Start at Lama Temple
Built in the 15th century, this Tibetan-Buddhist temple has undergone many restorations. In addition to its historical charm, Yonghegong’s main appeal lies in its grand architecture, sculptures and display of calligraphy – all demonstrating the artistry of Chinese craftsmen from the Qing dynasty. Don’t miss the 26-meter-tall Buddha statue carved from a single piece of wood in the rear of the complex.
RMB 25 (student discount available). Take subway line 2 or 5 to Lama Temple. Daily 9am-4.30pm. 12 Yonghegong Dajie, Dongcheng District (6404 4499) 雍和宫, 东城区雍和宫大街12号 www.yonghegong.cn
11am: History Comes Alive
Walk south along Yonghegong Dajie for about 10 minutes and turn west onto Guozijian Jie, where Guozijian and Confucius Temple (Kong Miao) are located. Guozijian is remarkable mostly for the Biyong, the open-walled structure where the emperor lectured to scholars on Confucianism. Confucius Temple is perhaps Beijing’s most peaceful spot, boasting centuries-old cedars and countless stone steles that bear the names of high-scorers on the imperial examinations, as well as a full set of Confucian classics.
RMB 10 (RMB 3 for students, free for children). Confucius Temple (no English spoken). Daily 8.30am-5pm (4.30pm last ticket). 13 Guozijian Jie, Dongcheng District (8401 1977) 北京孔庙,东城区国子监街13号
12pm: A Vegetarian Feast
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the Xuxiangzhai Vegetarian Restaurant, just across the road from Guozijian, for a healthy all-you-can-eat buffet that even carnivores will scarf down (lunch RMB 48, dinner RMB 58).
Daily 9.30am-10pm. 26-1A Guozijian Dajie, Dongcheng District (6404 6568) 叙香斋素食，东城区国子监大街甲26-1号
2pm: Break for Tea
Nothing suits a food coma more than a warm cup of tea accompanied by Chinese traditional music. Walking east along Guozijian Jie, find a hutong to your right with red lanterns; Yicheng Teahouse lies in a courtyard within. Rest on the Chinese-style furniture and take in the live guqin (Chinese zither) shows.
Daily 10am-1am. Yicheng Teahouse, 8 Guozijian Jie, Dongcheng District (8402 6424) 一承茶社，东城区国子监街8号
3:30pm: Stuff Your Goodie Bag
Rejuvenated, it’s time to keep exploring. Follow Guozijian Jie westward and you’ll find a string of small shops selling authentic traditional toys and handicrafts such as Shengtang Xuan (www.rbtys.com). Pick up classic tschotchkes made from wood, paper and clay, like wooden spinning tops (RMB 3), toy drums (RMB 8), paper windmills (RMB 12) and Peking opera masks (RMB 25).
Daily 9am-7pm. 38 Guozijian Jie, Dongcheng District (8404 7179) 盛唐轩，东城区国子监街38号
4pm: Indulge in Manga Mania
Further west on Guozijian Jie lies one of Beijing’s gems, the Dragon Creatures Manga Store. This hub for Japanese comic books has plenty to excite all kids, whether they’re manga novices or devoted Naruto fans. Look out for kimonos, dolls, t-shirts, jewelry, pencil boxes, key chains, cushions, and an array of other accessories, along with the requisite comic books and videos. Kids can even pick up comic drawing and painting kits to start creating their own manga characters! There’s more – scout out the three small manga stores nearby for anything else you’re looking for.
Dragon Creatures Manga Store, 67 Guozijian Jie, Dongcheng District (8402 7166) 龙裔元创, 东城区国子监街67号 www.longyicomics.com
5pm: Walk With Royals
Walk along Gongyi Xiang and Fangjia Hutong and discover the former palace of Xun Jun, now home to families and small businesses, though many beautiful courtyard doorways remain.
6pm: Dine like a Dongbeiren
End the day at Dongbei Mantanghong Restaurant, 20 meters south of the southeast exit of Yonghegong subway station, and enjoy a hearty Dongbei (Northeast China) meal. Don’t forget to order the stewed pork and glass noodle casserole (zhurou dun fentiao), one of the region’s star dishes.
Daily 7.30am-2pm, 4.30-10pm. 11 Cangjingguan Hutong, Dongcheng District (6403 0092) 东城区藏经馆胡同11号Text adapted from Beijing by Foot
7:30pm: Home, Sweet Home
Text adapted from ‘Beijing by Foot’